Research and Development

McCullough’s departure ends controversial post at AWI

Sheep Central, April 9, 2024

AWI CEO Stuart McCullough.

FORMER chief executive of Australian Wool Innovation Stuart McCullough has been made redundant, ending his controversial 30-month overseas appointment.

AWI advised today that the role of chief marketing and innovation officer held by Mr McCullough has been made redundant.

The role was created in October 2021 to oversee a major restructure of AWI’s overseas operations, harnessing Mr McCullough’s extensive experience in the international markets of the wool industry, AWI said in a statement today.

Due to changed financial circumstances at AWI — lower than expected revenue — and the successful completion of Mr McCullough’s secondment overseas, the role is no longer required, AWI said.

The statement concluded with AWI thanking Mr McCullough for “his hard work and dedication throughout his nearly 23 years of service at AWI. Mr McCullough will remain in the United States.”

No details of Mr McCullough’s redundancy payout have been released by AWI. Today’s media release contained no statement from AWI chairman Jock Laurie or John Roberts, who succeeded Mr McCullough as AWI chief executive officer.

An AWI spokesman said Mr McCullough served the company with distinction in several capacities including CEO and CMIO, providing significant industry knowledge and experience to marketing programs and traceability programs in particular.

The spokesman said Mr McCullough’s restructure of AWI’s overseas operations included reorganizing the offices, reducing staffing levels and improving reporting lines. He was initially based in London and then New York.

Mr McCullough will serve out a notice period of six months from today’s announcement, the AWI spokesman said.

Mr McCullough featured in Senate Estimates and ANAO audit

Mr McCullough’s departure from the AWI CEO role was announced in October 2021 just months after he and other AWI officials were grilled at a Senate Estimates hearing.

When AWI announced Mr McCullough’s appointment to the overseas role, AWI would not give any details of his salary and scant details about his job description, referring to the need to fight European Union labelling laws and that he would play an important role in a proposed Natural Fibre Coalition.

The CFIO position was not advertised and there was no application process, although it is believed he was appointed to the quickly created role by AWI chairman Jock Laurie, with the support of some directors.

At a Senate Estimates hearing in late October 2021, it was revealed that Mr McCullough would be paid around $400,000 annually in the new role.

Further controversy was exposed when the Australian National Audit Office disclosed that an examination of AWI board meeting papers showed that in October 2021, the board’s deliberations and decisions regarding the establishment of Mr McCullough as chief marketing and innovation officer were not documented in the board’s minutes.


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  1. Adam Mort, April 10, 2024

    The whole thing, starting with the clandestine overseas appointment, is almost unbelievable. ☹️☹️

  2. Andrew Farran, April 10, 2024

    How could anyone be surprised?

  3. Donald Cameron, April 10, 2024

    The gravy train has finally hit the buffers, ejecting its most longstanding passenger, after riding it to the bitter end. And what a ride he’s enjoyed — one less snout at the levy trough for graziers to worry about — and the very best news this year. Hooray!

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